In dealing with the coronavirus, Scotty From Marketing has all of a sudden decided that, not only must we do what the medical experts’ advise, we must also concentrate our scientific resources on combating the cause rather than just reacting to the crisis.
Yet this same logic does not seem to apply to the existential threat posed by global heating.
In order to avoid taking any action on reducing emissions, the government is busily calling for more inquiries to ignore and more glossy brochures to hold up.
They try to deflect the urgent need for action by ridiculous calls to quantify the cost and its affect on power prices and jobs in three decades time, all the while refusing to acknowledge the cost and impact of inaction.
And it’s not like they don’t know.
In 2015, the government published a National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy. It identified the major risks for Australia:
- increased frequency and intensity of flood damage to housing, roads and other infrastructure
- increased illness, death and infrastructure damages during heat waves
- constraints on water resources in southern Australia
- significant reduction in agricultural production in the Murray-Darling Basin and far south-eastern and south-western Australia if scenarios of severe drying are realised
- increasing risks to coastal infrastructure and low-lying ecosystems from continued sea-level rise
- increased damages to ecosystems and human settlements, infrastructure, economic losses and risks to human life from bushfires in most of southern Australia
- significant change in the ecological community composition and structure of coral reef systems
- loss of mountain ecosystems and some native species.
Then in 2018, the government commissioned the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework which further confirmed the huge costs of failure to act. The following is an excerpt from that report.
Reducing disaster risk is critical to supporting communities and economies to be resilient when a shock occurs. Recognising this, in early 2018 the Australian Government invited all states and territories, local government, and key private sector representatives to work together to co-design and develop a National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework.
Many natural hazards are becoming more frequent and more intense, driven by Australia’s changing climate. The Bureau of Meteorology/CSIRO’s 2018 State of the Climate report describes the effect of Australia’s changing climate, including warming temperatures, rising sea level, more severe fire weather, and increased rainfall in Australia’s north and decreases in the south. It is predicted that these changes will continue, while new natural hazard threats will emerge. There is growing potential for cumulative or concurrent, large-scale natural hazards to occur.
In 2017 Deloitte Access Economics, reporting to the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities, found that over the past 10 years disasters have cost the Australian economy around $18 billion per year. Assuming current development patterns and population growth continue, this is forecast to reach $39 billion per year by 2050. This forecast does not account for the effects of a changing climate, which are expected to magnify these costs; nor does it account for losses that cannot be quantified but are no less important to people. Deloitte Access Economics found in 2015 that the intangible costs of disasters – including increased family violence, mental health impacts, chronic disease, alcohol and drug use, short and long-term unemployment, changes to school academic outcomes, and crime – are at least equal to, if not greater than, tangible costs.
There is significant momentum building across sectors to address climate and disaster risks. The release of the 2017 Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure report increased market understanding of climate risk and demand for services to help identify and manage that risk. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and Australian Securities and Investment Commission have stated that climate-related physical and economic transition risks are foreseeable and material financial risks that should be addressed by company directors alongside all other financial risks.
Mainstream investors are divesting from stock in exposed industries, credit rating companies are reassessing credit ratings to factor in climate-related risks and several banks have commissioned analysis of their mortgage books based on location. The Investor Group on Climate Change, in its 2018 Investing in Resilience report, predicts that the ability to differentiate investment opportunities by climate risks will be a key financial metric within the next 3-5 years. These developments provide additional reasons to take action to reduce disaster risk and position Australia for the future.
If they read their own reports, the government already knows the risks we face and how best to address them. What is the point in more inquiries, more “road maps”, more glossy brochures, if they continue to ignore the science for their own political purposes?
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